The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 26, 2013

Too much, too little

Solutions needed to quell State Police trooper shortage

— Too much crime.

Too many already incarcerated in our prisons.

Too few state troopers.

That’s not a healthy combination for the state of West Virginia.

Just this week, West Virginia State Police Superintendent Jay Smithers stated that he could use another 274 troopers to maintain services.

His comments came during a legislative interims meeting before the Select Committee on Minority Issues.

Sadly, Smithers further said that most of the new troopers, if approved, should be assigned to the special Crimes Against Children Unit.

More manpower is needed.

All sources of funding should be explored.

Smithers said that his agency operates 60 detachments across the state, and 22 of them are manned by four or fewer troopers per county.

“How would you like to try to run a business 24/7 days a week with four people?” he asked the legislators.

A good point, since crime is in operation 24/7.

And those who operate meth labs, solicit child pornography or peddle  pills even seem to be working overtime.

To battle the scourge that befalls our state, we must be equipped to do so.

Smithers said that his agency is at a “crossroads” — expressing concerns that time is of the essence and that redistributing existing funds may be an answer.

Our hope is that prison overcrowding and law enforcement shortages can be addressed in the next legislative session, and solutions be implemented.

Before it’s too late.